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Album Review: Forgotten Tomb – Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love


colour coverAlbum:  Hurt Yourself and the Ones You Love

Release Date:  17 April 2015 (EU); 21 April 2015 (North America)

Label:  Agonia Records

Songs:  7

Length:  51 Minutes

Genre:  Doom/Black/Stoner

Location:  Italy

Previous Albums:  Songs to Leave (2002); Springtime Depression (2003); Love’s Burial Ground (2004); Negative Megalomania (2007); Under Saturn Retrograde (2011); …And Don’t Deliver Us from Evil (2012).

If you tried combining black metal, doom, stoner, and a bit of 70s style hard rock, do you think you could do it?  What could possibly go wrong?  Well, a lot could go wrong.  While stoner rock/metal tends to lean on the hippy, happier, beer drinking side of metal, doom is rather moody and laced with melancholy.  Not always, but mostly.  While black metal is extreme, 70s hard rock is far from it.  Combining all of those elements seems hugely challenging to me and seems like it would be difficult to process as a listener.   Read the rest of this entry

Tales From Bandcamp: Beware the Sword You Cannot See by A Forest of Stars


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120 years before our age, there is a Gentlemen’s Club of A Forest Of Stars, an exclusive brotherhood of Victorian Englishmen who consider themselves representatives of their era, an era as glorious and splendid as it is decadent. This collective finds its musical expression in hypnotic and ghostly Black Metal, expertly streaked with elements of Ambient and Psychedelic.

Yaaaa, with a band description like that on their Bandcamp page I couldn’t resist for a moment to not click the play button to hear what 18th Century Black Metal sounded like.  Well, imagine if you will, a freshly brewed cup of Earl Grey tea…. spiked with opium.  You raise the porcelain cup to your lips and while sipping take in the aroma.  Since the tea is still hot you really don’t get the subtlety of the citrusy bergamot, just the relaxing touches of the base black tea.  It’s nice, comforting.  You sit back and relax.  Then as the flavor cools down and starts to build across your palette you take another sip, this time the essence of those little, green, Italian oranges tickle your nasal cavity and leave a light and pleasant aftertaste for you to contemplate on.

The soothing effect seeps into your being even deeper.  The clanging world around you just soothes as seemingly random and abstract sounds dance melodies from one ear to the next.  Structure and waves, ebb and flow, anger and serenity, it all comes together in harmonious, chaotic glory.  Oh shit, that must be the opium kicking in.  Enjoy the ride.  And my oh my what a ride.  A trip to hear a small group of chamber musicians, see recital of poetry, feel the pattering of a London shower on your back, smell the pungency of the cod coming in from the docks.  All your senses are heightened and carefully kneaded into a tasty cottage loaf.  And damn does this aroma of little, green, Italian oranges leave a nice sensation.

So, ya, Beware the Sword You Cannot See basically starts out as a rather traditional post-black metal affair and then descends into an odd and unique trip of Eldrich psychedelia unlike anything out there.  Yet somehow for how strange and chaotic the record can get it flows masterfully and is incredibly listenable.  If trippy turns on black metal is your fancy, do check out A Forest of Stars.  I promise, you will be delighted.

Roundtable Review: Run with the Wolf by Drakkar


Drakkar coverLabel: My Kingdom Music

Release Date: March 16th, 2015

Songs: 10 + 5 Bonus Tracks

Genre: Power Metal

Studio Albums: Quest for Glory, Razorblade God, When Lightning Strikes

Location: Milan, Italy

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Album Review: Ensiferum – One Man Army


Ensiferum-One-Man-ArmyAlbum:  One Man Army

Label:  Metal Blade

Song:  15 (including four bonus tracks)

Length:  68 Minutes

Previous Albums:  Ensiferum (2001); Iron (2004); Victory Songs (2007); From Afar (2009); Unsung Heroes (2012)

Genre:  Folk Metal

Location:  Finland

I like the opening riff to One Man Army (the song not the album).  It isn’t revolutionary in terms of guitar riffing, but the way it kicks off the song reminds me of early thrash metal; energetic and enthusiastic.  Take away the folk elements from this song and its core is pure speed/thrash metal.  Before you dismiss Ensiferum’s One Man Army (the album) as just another niche folk metal album, think again. Yes, you will hear all of the fundamentals of a folk metal album, but if you take the time to peel away the layers you’ll hear there is more buried between the swords, spears, and pre-battle hymns than you might expect.  And I will say this…the folk parts seem much more tame compared to older albums.

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Album Review: This is No Fairytale by Carach Angren


a1683979843_2Like most suburban middle class American kids camping was a rather regular part of my summertime curriculum.  And like most camp outs in the middle of the woods a campfire was built at night and around it we sat telling ghost stories, roasting hot dogs, and making smores.  Those times are some of my favorite childhood memories, though not as cherished as they should be.  You see, there was always this one kid, let’s call him Little Billy, who really had a knack for crafting these really dark takes on the classics.  Instead of the man with the hook for a hand popping up behind the campers, Billy took it steps further and had the hook-handed man brutally bludgeon the camper, pop their eyes out with the hook, and suffocate on broken glass.  Then usually the camp chaperone would interrupt and end Little Billy’s macabre imagination.

Turns out Little Billy came from an abusive home filled with alcoholism, schizophrenia, and drugs.  This I never learned about until I opened the paper one day saw an article about how Little Billy had gotten drunk, beaten his girlfriend to death, and then took his own life.  Mutual friends and acquaintances filled me in on Billy’s childhood and my mind immediately recalled those horrible stories he would tell around the campfire.  Since then, I have never been able to look back on those memories the same.  Stuff like this is what I consider true horror.

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Tales From Bandcamp: 5 Doom Metal Bands You Should Know About


Doom+metal+doom+metal_9cc41b_4923534I love me some doom metal.  Riffs as chewy as Dubble-Bubble, grooves that make Fat Albert look like Calista Flockhart, and more experimentation than a suburban teenager who just discovered weed and masturbation.  There’s so much to love from this genre, and yet I see that a lot of doom fans are still stuck in the Candlemass, St. Vitus, Black Sabbath days and they tend to not notice that there are a great amount of bands in the modern scene really innovating on the genre (while simultaneously keeping what’s so great about it intact).

Here’s a little list of five bands (in no particular order) which can be found on Bandcamp I feel any self-respecting doom fan should take the time to listen to.  My rules for this list were they had to have a full album to listen to on Bandcamp naturally, be relatively new, and they have to still be active.  So as much as I’d love to add Avatarium, Order of Israfel, or Alunah, they don’t quite meet my guidelines, so go check them out on your own time.  If you know of some doom bands that you want to shout out, drop a comment!  Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!! Read the rest of this entry

Album Review: Mach Dich Frei by Finsterforst


mach_dich_freiIn my CD collection I have a few CDs where I have no idea when or where I bought them.  They just kinda appeared.  One of those is this double CD called Urwerk by Finsterforst.  It’s nothing outstanding; an ok record.  Still for the life of me, I can’t remember ever buying it.  Anyhoo, I’ve only really listened to it a handful of times and it basically sounds like Moonsorrow plus an accordion player hopped up on a cocktail of cocaine and amphetamines.  Not bad, but a tad repetitive, long-winded, and that overload of accordion can get a bit annoying at times.  I do appreciate the ‘what if Korpiklaani were a black metal band’ thing as an experiment, but… Oh, well.  So, when I saw that we got a promo for the latest record from this anomaly in my CD collection I decided to give it a spin to see if these guys were still berating listeners with post-neo-accordion-black-metal.  To my surprise, what I found is nearly a whole different band who kept their best elements, shook their formula around, and sent their accordion player to rehab.  In short, a band which has really matured a lot since my last experience with them.

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Album Review: Beyond the Red Mirror by Blind Guardian


beyond_the_red_mirror_earbook“It sounds like a ‘insert the same band name as the album here’ album.”  In my years as a metal fan and hobbyist writer I have heard and lazily used that phrase way too often.  An Amon Amarth, Primus, Slayer, Tool (one can keep dreaming right?) new album pops up, a quick sum up is requested, and that phrase gets the point across to existing fans quick enough.  It can be a good thing as well as bad.  Sure it says that the pedigree of quality is there but also doesn’t take into account any forward (or backward) progress in the bands unique, established sound may have undergone.  Yet after listening to the newly minted release, Beyond the Red Mirror, from German heart-throbs Blind Guardian I honestly can’t think of a better way to describe it summarily.  It sounds exactly like what you would expect a Blind Guardian album to sound like.  Though, allow me to explore that statement just a tad deeper.

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Album Review: Furyon – Lost Salvation


FuryonLostSalvation

As much as I love complicated rhythms, odd time signatures, blast beats, deathly growls, and other wild riffs and things; sometimes I like music that doesn’t have any of that.  There are numerous bands fitting for what I am talking about, but a standout among the newcomers of the music world is Furyon.  From the southern UK comes the latest album Lost Salvation, the sophomore effort from these classic hard rockers. Read the rest of this entry

Retro Roundtable Review: At the Edge of Time by Blind Guardian


MI0003036053Label: Nuclear Blast

Release Date: July 30th, 2010

Songs: 10

Genre: Symphonic Power Metal

Studio Albums: 9 other ones

Location: Germany

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